REPRESENTING Country is something all bush footballers aspire, but for Ryan Hinchcliffe Sunday’s City-Country game hits a little closer to home.
The Melbourne Storm utility will have a homecoming of sorts as he runs out onto Equex Centre.
In a strange twist Wagga’s game will be the second time the Temora boy has played the time-honoured game in the Riverina, after playing at Albury in 2011.
With three years out of the Country scene, Hinchcliffe will start at hooker can’t wait to play in front of so many family and friends.
“I’m looking forward to it and it should be fun,” Hinchcliffe said.
“It’s a great opportunity to play in a representative game, and it’s being played basically in my home area.
“It’s something I’m very happy to be apart of and obviously a lot of family will get along and I know I’ll be pretty pumped at that.
The 30-year-old won’t be the only Hinchcliffe involved on the day with older brother Andrew to coach Group Nine in the curtain-raise against Group 20.
After playing for Country in 2011 and 2012, Hinchcliffe but was thrilled to get another opportunity to pull on the gold and maroon jumper.
“I’ve played in a couple of games before and it’s something I’m also proud to be able to do,” he said.
“I’m very proud to be part of this team and the country people really get behind this game and hopefully do them proud.”
While the game will have a big impact on the NSW team for State Of Origin, Hinchcliffe isn’t focused on earning a sky blue jumper.
“For me it’s just an opportunity to play a high quality game of footy and to represent where we all grew up in the bush,” he said.
“I’m sure there for some players it is a great stepping stone for the Origin arena but for me personally it’s something I haven’t really thought about.
“I’m just focusing on enjoying the week and putting in a good performance.”
As part of the week-long camp the Country team will visit Griffith and Wagga and to help prepare will run an opposed season with Hinchcliffe’s old club Temora.
It’s something he never thought he’d be able to do and is looking forward to coming up against his younger brother Kurt.
“It’s unreal actually,” Hinchcliffe said.
“My litter brother still plays for Temora and he’ll be there and the young kids who were only little fellas when I was growing up in Temora.
“It is a great thrill even for me as an older bloke to do a bit of opposed against my hometown.”
The Country team will spend part of Tuesday at Griffith’s Trent Barrett Shield day before coming to Wagga.